With 24 confirmed deaths, 2,400 homes destroyed, and 10,000 people in the Oklahoma City area directly affected by the storm, this particular tornado quickly became a top-of-the-scale EF-5.
While you can't control Mother Nature, you can take some precautions in in the spring, well before a tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster strikes. Arm yourself with knowledge and proactive measures you can take before the next weather even wreaks havoc.
And please donate to The American Red Cross.
A breathtaking field of Texas bluebonnets is a beautiful reminder that something as pure and simple as flowers will make the perfect gift for Mother's Day.
It's never too late to buy something fresh and growing for your mother, grandma, your aunt, cousin, sister, neighbor or another woman who just happens to be a mother. Better yet, help her plant something in the garden -- even in a container on the deck or patio. She deserves it and will appreciate more than you'll ever know.
Happy Mother's Day!
Photo copyright Robyn Raggio
If this hasn't convinced you: more Mother's Day gift ideas.
I speak on behalf of all women when I remind you that this coming Sunday is Mother's Day. It's early in the week, still giving you enough time to look at this list of Mother's Day gift suggestions for some of the top pool and patio Mother's Day gifts.
Women love to spend time in their outdoor living spaces, and with the warmer weather and lure of outdoor activities and entertaining, it makes Mother's Day the perfect time to buy the ladies in your life a little something to make time spent in their favorite spaces all the more enjoyable. Some of my personal favorites on this list are the lovely and remarkable Ethel Gloves (I could actually use a new pair; I think my 6'4" son wore them to do some yard work -- you know, whatever's handy to blast through gruntwork -- and popped through the fingertips; they don't come in size men's XL), the MiracleSuit (swimsuit-plus-miracle equals nirvana) and the garden sandals, which are holding up two, maybe three years later.
Look over the list yourself and don't procrastinate. Mother always knows best.
Depending on the weather forecast, you might want to honor mum with an outdoor feast next weekend. Just make sure she sits back, relaxes, and has absolutely nothing to do with the preparations or cleanup -- just eating the savory meal you have planned and made for her.
We've come up with a list of favorite grill and barbecue recipes from About.com's many chefs and culinary experts. Whether the queen for the day is a vegetarian, seafood lover or a traditional burger gal, there are new recipes and side dishes for a complete feast that will make her proud. And of course she deserves to be pampered and treated with kindness.
Photo: Stephanie Gallagher
Happy Earth Day to all of us! While Earth Day is a global celebration that raises awareness and support of environmental issues, you can perform an extremely important service to our planet by participating right in your own backyard. Involve your children, friends and neighbors. Even the simplest efforts can make an impact on people, who will hopefully "pay it forward" - inspire others to go forth and do good things that could improve the world.
So, what can you do?
- Plant a tree.
- If your outdoor space is limited, plant a tree in a container.
- Use less water inside and outside.
- Stop using pollutant-producing equipment like gas mowers and leaf blowers.
- Join a wildlife conservation group.
- Join a CSA.
Change your ways -- don't justify your anti-environmental rituals and habits and end up making it everyone else's responsibility.
Remember - Earth Day is not just a one-day event.
Photo by Chloe Taylor
In recognition of Earth Day 2013 -- make that Earth Week -- why not limit your water-guzzling grass-growing to a confined area, like this human-shaped container? Better yet, make your cats happy by growing cat grass in it. Eco, green and considerate of animals -- purrfect.
Next Monday marks the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day, which is always April 22nd. The theme this year is The Face of Climate Change.
In the spirit of sustainability:
- Water-saving tips for pools and spas
- 62 water-saving tips for outside the house
- The drought and what you can do about it
Photo by Lisa Hallett Taylor
While flowers are blooming in the garden and it's definitely looking like spring, it's still not warm enough to hang out on the patio or deck -- at least where I live. This is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning outside, everything from refinishing the wood deck to refurbishing your outdoor furniture. While it's always fun to buy new furniture, it's not always necessary or a budget-smart choice. One of the easiest ways of getting a new look is to re-cover or reupholster your patio furniture.
Even if you don't have sewing skills, reupholstering is still a possibility. Check out my step-by-step instructions for making an easy patio dining chair pad. In fact, it's so easy, you can re-cover all the chair pads for your outdoor dining set. Actually, it would look kind of odd if you only did one. Other things you might want to know:
Inspired? I hope so. If you have ideas or photos for an outdoor reupholstering project, pillows, cushions, etc., please leave a comment.
Roll out the red carpet for the Pool & Patio winners of About.com's 2013 Readers' Choice Awards! Who won? You'll have to find out for yourself. Congratulations to the winners, finalists, and a big thank you to all the voters and people behind the scenes who made the awards possible.
There are no cash prizes, tiaras, velvet capes or genuine faux-gold-plated 8-pound statuettes for each of our winners. Just the bragging rites that come with being selected by the readers of one of the top websites!
Find out the who else won what in all those other categories on About.com.
I'm always talking about 'To Do' lists, specifically projects inside, outside and around the house. A few weeks ago, I conducted an informal poll to find out what do-it-yourself projects are on your spring list. Appropriately, some readers have asked me what's on my list this spring. My first thought was, "What isn't?" but I know I need to narrow it down, and doing so by seasons seems like a good way to make projects feasible.
So, here are the main projects on my "To DIY" list this spring that I have every intention of addressing. And that means I'll be writing about these step-by-steps, and photographing each project from start to finish. They include:
- Draining the pool. Yes it's legal in our neck of the woods, as long as there aren't chemicals. Check with your city before draining your pool or spa.
- Re-screening a sliding patio door. With two dogs and one cat--the need arises every so often.
- Tiling the waterline of the pool. Actually, repairing a few spots where we retiled it a couple years ago; but I'll show you how to do both. Kind of a bonus.
- Mosaic-tiling an outdoor table. An inexpensive and fun project.
- Refinishing the deck. It really needs it.
If you have any suggestions as I embark on my spring DIY projects, email me: email@example.com.
And let me know what you're up to, project-wise.
My husband tiling our pool waterline/Photo: Lisa Hallett Taylor